As a Palestinian born in Gaza, artist Taysir Batniji is not authorized to return to the West Bank. Taking cue from Bernd and Hilla Becher who documented disappearing German architecture in Europe during the 1980s, she created a series of photographs of Israeli military towers in Occupied Palestine. It has the same bleak, black and white garishness and the same almost clinical sterility of style, with two major differences. 1) The towers in Palestine are still being used for monitoring the population and 2) Batniji did not physically take the photographs, because she cannot go back. Instead, a Palestinian photographer produced the shots for her.
Some are flawed, blurry, badly framed as individual works. Some of the towers look to be in ruins, some are splattered with paint or are adjacent to the wall of protest graffiti, some are framed in barbed wired fences. As a whole, the series weighs heavy with the nature of architectural arms of control, of one political power establishing authority through these functional totems, ominous both in its military capability and its oppressive symbology. Now on view at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum at the Light from the Middle East exhibit, the series was recently profiled at We Make Money Not Art. See some of the works in the slideshow below.
Photo credit: Taysir Batniji